Roadside Attractions
Richard Libertini, left, John Enos III and John Kapelos in a scene from the painfully unfunny romantic comedy "Everybody Wants to Be Italian."
EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE ITALIAN — * — Jay Jablonski, Cerina Vincent, John Kapelos; rated R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, slurs)

It's pretty obvious. "Everybody Wants to Be Italian" wants to be the next "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

Unfortunately, it doesn't have nearly as much charm as the 2002 sleeper. In fact, "Italian" doesn't have much charm to it at all.

What's worse, this painfully unfunny, alleged romantic comedy is also filled with big fat stereotypes (mostly of the ethnic variety), as well as a fair amount of sexual material (these are mostly references, though this R-rated film isn't really that much cruder than a lot of its PG-13 competition).

Still, its biggest fault is that its main character is so unlikable. Played by television actor Jay Jablonski, he's Jake Bianski, a Boston fish market owner whose love life could be charitably termed as troubled.

Jake is still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Isabella (Marisa Petroro), who's already gotten married and had a couple of kids since they were involved.

So Jake's pals and co-workers (John Kapelos and John Enos III) try to set him up with Marisa Costa (Cerina Vincent), a pretty veterinarian whose personal life isn't going much better.

As promised by the film's title, there's a twist — neither one of them is Italian, though each has been led to believe that the other person is. And so they pretend to be Italian.

Judging by the goofy premise, screenwriter/director Jason Todd Ipson was apparently going for sort of a screwball-like flavor. But it's bizarre that he thought anyone would care about what happens to his main character.

Jake is pretty much a stalker (especially in regards to his ex-girlfriend, whom he continues to call and visit), and Jablonski doesn't help matters by playing him somewhat smugly.

At least former Power Ranger Vincent comes off better. As do both Kapelos and Enos. They're still not given anything remotely funny to do.

And you know your film is a wreck when even dependable old pros like Richard Libertini and Penny Marshall — who appear in basically extended cameos — can't make it watchable.

"Everybody Wants to Be Italian" is rated R for crude sexual material (references, jokes and language, as well as profanity), some brief violence (fisticuffs), slurs based on ethnic heritage, and other derogatory language. Running time: 104 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com